Full Text

Lacan, Jacques (1901–1981)

Christine A. Monnier


Subject Philosophy
Sociological and Social Theory » Postmodern Theory

Place Western Europe » France

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics poststructuralism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Extract

Jacques Marie Emile Lacan received his medical degree in psychiatry in 1932 based on a doctoral dissertation analyzing a famous case of paranoid psychosis. This work marked the beginning of a clinical and theoretical career in psychoanalysis that would span over 50 years and make him one of the major, and most controversial, figures of the post-World War II French intellectual milieu. Lacan defined his approach as a “return to Freud.” By this, he did not simply mean the establishment of a literal Freudian orthodoxy, but the rediscovery of Freud's most controversial and subversive insights. He also succeeded in underlining the importance of Freud, beyond the field of psychoanalysis, to other human and social sciences. It is therefore not surprising that his conceptual developments integrated insights from the arts (Surrealism), philosophy (Spinoza, Hegel, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty), linguistics (Saussure, Jakobson), anthropology (especially in the structuralist anthropology initiated by Lévi-Strauss), and mathematics. Such a wide range points to two major difficulties in studying Lacan: first, he constantly redefined his concepts to integrate insights from other fields; second, this integration made Lacan notorious for his deliberately “unreadable” style. One of the major controversial insights that Lacan retrieved from Freud is the radical deconstruction of the classical Cartesian ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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